British Travel | 4th May 2023
Travelling with your dog: the ultimate guide to a break with your four-legged friend
Travelling with your dog has never been easier.
As a nation of dog-lovers, with more than a third of households in the UK now owning a dog, we’re seeing a steady increase of dog-friendly activities and places to stay or visit.
Working from home has enabled many of us to bite the proverbial bullet and take on the luxury and responsibility of having a faithful companion.
For those who need logistical support, there’s inevitably an app for that, whether it’s finding a regular dog-walker or a dog-sitter whilst we’re away for the day or longer periods. Thankfully, travelling with your dog has never been easier, especially with a little guidance as well as using common sense.
We caught up with Lottie Gross, author of Dog-Friendly Weekends: 50 breaks in Britain for you and your dog, as she was out scouting locations for her follow-up guidebook accompanied by her Manchester Terrier, Arty. She was full of excellent advice, with her top tip on finding dog-friendly places to simply ask in person, “It only takes a few minutes to make a phone call or, if passing a pub or shop you want to go into, it's even faster to stick your head around the door and find out if the dog is welcome too.”
Failing that, an internet search including the name of the place you’re visiting with the words “dog friendly” alongside will usually tell you whether or not your dog can come along, too.
Helpfully, the National Trust and English Heritage both have detailed information on their websites about dogs visiting their sites. The former even has a “pawprint rating" based on how dog-friendly the location is, as some allow dogs inside cafes and shops. The vast moorland of Dartmoor National Park has plenty of paths and walking routes that are perfect for pups, and being on the doorstep of Bovey Castle, makes for a perfect weekend of exploring with dogs in tow! Plus, plenty of museums and excursions like boat trips have FAQs on their websites that usually cover whether dogs are allowed. If water wading is more your dog’s cup of tea, the Lake District is a great option, with Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa having recently launched the ‘Paws for a Break’ spa break for dogs needing some R&R after a day of adventuring.
One thing Lottie points out is that, from March to July, we’re often stuck with keeping dogs on leads, what with young livestock and ground-nesting birds. For dogs that love to run, “looking for local recreation grounds is a handy way to find off-lead areas,” Lottie suggested, “or simply hiring a field - this is much more common now and I just hired one at the weekend so Arty could have a roam around off the lead in a totally safe space. It went above and beyond with its own swimming pond for the dogs, plus a small walking trail and great agility equipment so he could have a go at some more exciting stuff after a good session chasing the ball!”
Of course, a quiet beach in the early morning or off season can also be a great option to let dogs roam free, and picking one slightly off the tourist trail, such as Seaham Beach in Durham, can ensure freedom for dogs without any owner anxiety. Picking up on this growing demand, Seaham Hall have recently introduced dog-friendly suites, meaning beach lovers can book a longer escape to explore the Durham coastline, and swap the crowds of Cornwall for the serenity of the North East.
As well as focusing on location, it’s important to book a hotel that works for both you and your sidekick - dog-friendly can mean different things at different hotels so it’s crucial to research guidelines and rules for spa, restaurants, and public spaces beforehand. For dogs that like to be glued to their owner’s side, hotels such as The Grove of Narberth in the Pembrokeshire countryside work perfectly, as their Artisan restaurant has a selection of dog-friendly tables, meaning no abandonment woes and a delicious meal for both. The only downside: supermarket dog treats back home might not cut the mustard in your pup’s eyes anymore!
Lottie’s top tip? Looking out for a helping hand: “There's usually one or two dog owners among hotel staff, too, so I'll always ask for tips when staying somewhere.” It’s no surprise that, being countryside hotel owners, many of our members have their own beloved best friends in dog form - from the Torridon to the Nare, most PoB hotels are run by dog lovers, ready and waiting to share their top local tips for enhancing your dog’s minibreak.